This past Friday was unlike any other. It seemed like an eternity since we had rescued a dog when the deadly distemper outbreak shut our doors 3 months ago. We had just reopened the shelter the day before with an emotional ribbon cutting and champagne toast, and now it was time to get back out there and do what we do best – save lives.
As we headed out in the jeep, Donna and I were both feeling a range of emotions from excitement to nervousness to anticipation of what we might find out there. What four- legged souls are waiting for their freedom rides? Would we even remember how to rescue? It had been too long. We kept the conversation light as we headed over to the east side, but it didn’t take long before we saw our first stray. He seemed curious but not trusting enough to want to come too close. It was obvious our goal for him that day was to fill his belly, so we left him plenty of food and hot dogs. We’ll keep an eye on him for his freedom ride another day.
Just down the road in the parking lot of Family Dollar was another scared boy. We tried to make friends with him by tossing treats his way, but he just backed up, terrified like we were throwing something at him. We didn’t want to spook him into traffic and be the cause of him getting hit, so we’ll keep him on our radar too. Feeling a little discouraged, we moved on.
And then it happened. We saw another stray in need of help, so we pulled over. This time, the dog ran right up to us as if to say, “Today is my day!” I opened the door and he jumped up, putting his large paws on my lap while doing a butt wiggle. If a dog could talk he would have said, “Come on dude! Help me up and let’s get the heck out of here.” It was like he rescued himself. We gladly drove him back to the shelter and named him Rebound because Donna and I looked at each other and said, “Stray Rescue is officially on the rebound.” Our first freedom ride in 3 months!
We brought Rebound back to the shelter for his vaccinations, some food and a nice warm bed. We barely closed the door to his apartment before we got a call about a dog in an abandoned house in North City. Inside the 3 story building filled with trash, broken glass and remnants of former occupants was a collapsing stairway leading to the third floor. In the first room we checked upstairs was a timid but trusting little dog. The conditions this poor skinny dog was “living” in broke my heart. I could tell she had had puppies, so I wasn’t surprised when I heard Donna say, “Randy, there are puppies in here.” Two of them.
As we were gathering up the family to take them to the safety of the jeep, Donna and I looked at each other – knowing exactly what the other one was thinking. They are the reason we do what we do. They are what it’s all about. It all came back to us as if no time had passed at all.
It felt so good to take them out into the fresh air, knowing that the puppies, now named Sumatra and Espresso, will have a great start in their lives and will never have to fend for themselves or have babies of their own. And their skinny mom, K-Cup, will never again have to weed through garbage looking for food and shelter in an unsafe, abandoned trash filled building.
It was a good day. Four lives saved, but we weren’t done yet. We set off to respond to a police call about a dog that was left on an abandoned small, decrepit, feces covered porch that he couldn’t escape from. Excited to see us, he jumped and would put his head through the railings. As we put the slip lead over his head, his fear and anxiety came out as he struggled to bite the leash. Even though he was probably someone’s dog at one time, we could tell he was left alone a lot and had never walked on a leash. So, I scooped him up in my arms and we walked back to the jeep, naming him Just Ross.
By the end of the day, Donna and I were exhausted, but it was a good exhausted. Stray Rescue was back. One of the new changes we’ve made at the shelter is to immediately have newly rescued dogs start in a play group. They all played and all got along great. They all finally have that precious new beginning and in an odd way, Donna and I had a new beginning too.
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Love and WOOF,
Randy and Donna